UNESCO: Berat, Albania

Berat, Albania - the town with a thousand eyes

What We Knew Before Arriving:

I’ve read about the city of Berat on a couple of travel blogs, accidentally, about a month before arriving to the Balkan destination. From their photos and stories, I could tell that the city wouldn’t resemble anything I’ve ever seen before. With its interesting architecture and intricate, narrow streets, I was sure it would be a whole new cultural experience.

Getting There

Prior to arriving in Albania, we spent the night in the small town of Ulcinj in Montenegro, and visited the astonishing Skadar Lake. This meant that it took us half a day to get to Berat, especially with the hold-up at the Montenegrin-Albanian border. It was the fifth day of our Balkan trip, and after we had already been in Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro, Albania was the fourth country we arrived to (on the fifth day!). Everyone was a bit moody, and the fact that it was raining didn’t quite cheer up anyone either. As the bus stopped, everyone was just anxious to get out of the bus and walk a little from half a day of driving around. It was then that we first spotted the the town of the thousand windows.

Berat, Albania

Unexpected Company

As everyone stepped down from the bus and our group leader started explaining that we had 2 hours to explore the whole place and then we had to meet up to continue our journey towards Macedonia, an 11 year-old girl stepped up and started explaining the most important sights to see on a map. She was a real character, and spoke in Italian, telling us that anything we needed, she could show us. 

volunteer guide in Berat, Albania

Although she was sweet and cute, we couldn’t help but feel irritated after a while, since she followed us around everywhere we went, and even sat down to grab a meal right next to us. 

Sightseeing in Berat

We knew we didn’t have a lot of time to explore the town, so we started as soon as our group leader let us go. The town itself was beautiful and I couldn’t help but wonder how they could maintain the Old Town part (Mangalem), which was UNESCO-protected in such a great shape.

Old Town of Berat, Albania - the town with a thousand eyes (Mangalem)

We decided to explore the UNESCO-protected Mangalem and decided to just wander around the narrow, cobblestoned streets, since we didn’t really have enough time to go into various churches because of our tight schedule. Although the streets were truly beautiful, I had a lot of trouble walking around, because I was still limping at the time and the cobblestones became wet and extremely slippery from all the rain. So I couldn’t actually enjoy sightseeing that much, because I was worrying about holding on to dear life and not falling (again). But I am sure I would’ve adored the city if it wasn’t pouring and I didn’t have to worry about my leg. Here’s a glimpse at one of the prettiest streets:

Zoi Tole Street, Berat, Albania

Having Lunch in Berat

After we all got pretty much soaking wet and were really hungry, we wanted to go eat something in a nice place. Although we initially tried to get tables in a place in the center were half our group was, the place was full. That’s when our volunteer guide came in handy and took us to another place, a couple of buildings away from the central place, where we each got a Gyros (and I, french fries), for about 1-1.5 euros. It turned out that the food in Albania was ridiculously cheap and also very tasty. Our mini-guide got a free meal because she took us there instead of the other place, so everyone was happy 🙂 

Berat, Albania

Before getting on the bus, I took a last shot of the lovely city of Berat, with the thought that I will most probably return to Albania one day. 

Thanks for reading! If you liked the post, don’t forget to pin it to Pinterest, so that it can get to others as well! 🙂

Berat, Albania

Has this ever happened to you? Has a local just unexpectedly stepped in to show you the sights in their city? Share your own story in the comments section below 🙂

Don’t forget to check back in a couple of days, when I’ll be sharing a story on one of the most iconic things you can see in Albania, regardless of which part of the country you’re in. Can you guess what it is? 🙂

Trackbacks & Pings

  • Travels of 2015 | CityoftheWeek :

    […] the Macedonian capital, the Oldest Lake in Europe and the amazing city of Ohrid, checked out the city of a thousand eyes and the bunkers of Albania, went hiking in the Rila Mountains of Bulgaria and spent 2 days in […]

    2 years ago

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